Poker's Top 5 Power Couples

Poker's Top 5 Power Couples

Monday, 14 October 2013

The game's most influential partnerships.

Let’s be honest, poker is not the best profession to take up if you’re looking to find a significant other. Online pros are obviously at a disadvantage here; grinding out this month’s rent while sitting in your pants is evidently not conducive to meeting new people, let alone that special someone.

However, even live players face a lot of difficulties if they’re looking for love. Aside from the gaping gender imbalance, with women making up only around 5% of tournament players, the long, unsociable hours and erratic travel schedules do not provide the best conditions for love to blossom.

Despite this, many poker players have managed to capture themselves a lasting romance against all the odds. Here, we take a look at our Top 5 most famous and influential poker power couples on the circuit today:

1. Phil Laak & Jennifer Tilly

TPC Tilly

Arguably one of the most famous pairings the poker circuit has produced, Phil “the Unabomber” Laak and Jennifer Tilly have been a couple for an impressive eight years. Together, they have both appeared on many popular shows, such as High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and Celebrity Poker Showdown.

Winning his first major tournament in 2004, the WPT No Limit Hold’em Main Event for $100k, Laak is part of the ‘old set’ of poker. Often linked to former roommate and close friend Antonio ‘the Magician’ Esfandiari, Laak has spent years competing against the best players in the world. His biggest tournament cash comes from a 2005 $6,000 No Limit Hold’em event, which he won for over $260k.

Laak’s lady Tilly started her career as an actress, starring in many well-known titles including Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Bound (1996), and Bride of Chucky (1998). The buxom brunette made her poker debut in 2005, winning the WSOP Ladies Event for over $150k. Since then, Tilly has become a regular on the poker circuit, with lifetime tournament winnings as of August 2013 standing at over $800k.

Combined Tournament Winnings:
Over $3.8 million

Combined Number of WSOP and WPT Final Tables: 10

2. Erick Lindgren & Erica Schoenberg

TPC Lindgren

Poker powerhouse Erick Lindgren has been in the game for over a decade, with a string of hefty tournament cashes to his name and a 22nd place spot on the all-time poker money list. And he hasn’t lost his edge over time, either – Lindgren managed an impressive five cashes at this year’s WSOP, including winning his second bracelet in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em 6-Max for a staggering $606,317.

Lindgren’s wife Erica Schoenberg, a former model, got her first big break placing 16th in the 2006 WPT for $117,165. She is definitely not a one-hit wonder, however, bagging a $261,646 payday only a year later in the 2007 WSOP. As it stands in August 2013, Schoenberg boasts lifetime tournament winnings of almost $850k.

Lindgren and Schoenberg found love together at the tables after Schoenberg split up with her ex-boyfriend David Benyamine, also a famous poker player, in late 2009. The couple tied the knot in a lavish Santa Barbara ceremony in June 2011, with guests including Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth. Shortly after the wedding Schoenberg announced her pregnancy, and November of the same year saw her give birth to a bouncing baby boy, an event which Lindgren described as “the best 24 hours of my life”. Awww.

Combined Tournament Winnings:
Over $10.5 million

Combined Number of WSOP and WPT Final Tables: 18

3. Tatjana Pasalic & McLean Karr

TPC Pasalic

Despite not having a particularly long list of poker cashes to her name, Tatjana Pasalic is a very well-known face in the poker world. Voted to be one of the sexiest female poker players around, the Croatian reporter has blogged about the action in some of the biggest WSOP, WPT and EPT tournaments, amassing a thousands-strong following. She is currently a sponsored Team Bodog pro.

Pasalic’s beau, pro player McLean Karr, is a regular on the tournament circuit. The highlight of Karr’s career came when he took down the 2010 WPT Championship for a tidy sum of $878,500. He returned to the WPT the next year to win the $9,600 High Roller event for over $250k, cementing his reputation as one of the best tournament pros around.

The couple hit the spotlight in 2012, with the results of a very public prop bet. After losing a last-longer wager to Karr, Pasalic paid her penalty by turning up to the WSOP main event in a skin-tight leopard print catsuit and skyscraper heels. While certainly nobody was complaining, we can’t help but wonder what Karr’s punishment would have been…

Combined Tournament Winnings:
Over $2.4 million

Combined Number of WSOP and WPT Final Tables: 4

4. Jennifer Harman & Marco Traniello

TPC Harman

American pro Jennifer Harman is one of the most famous women in the game, and rightly so. One of the small elite of women players who have won a WSOP bracelet in an open (non-Ladies only) event, and the first woman ever to win two of them, Harman currently places sixth on the women’s all-time poker money list with tournament cashes of almost $2.7 million. With around 20 years experience in the poker scene, not to mention a formidable cash game strategy, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

While in the past Harman dated pro player Todd Brunson, the son of Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson, they were clearly not destined to go the distance. In a love story that would melt the heart of any hardened grinder, Harman first met her husband after their cars were parked next to each other in the car park of the famous Bellagio casino in Vegas. Marco Traniello, an Italian hairdresser and poker player, has a staggering 32 cashes in the WSOP from the years of 2005 to 2013. His live cashes alone exceed $700k.

Combined Tournament Winnings:
Over $3.4 million

Combined Number of WSOP and WPT Final Tables: 22

5. Kara Scott & Giovanni Rizzo

TPC Scott

Having had a main presenting spot on just about every poker show ever, including popular hits such as Poker Night Live and High Stakes Poker, sponsored PartyPoker pro Kara Scott regularly rubs shoulders with some of the best in the business. She is more than just a pretty face, however – Scott has shown she has some real talent on the felt more than once. Her biggest cash to date was €312,600 (roughly $410,000), which she was awarded after finishing second in the 2009 Irish Open Main Event.

Her fiancé Giovanni Rizzo is an Italian-born player who appeared on the 2012 series of The Big Game. Rizzo successfully graduated from law school, but chose to turn his talents to the felt, currently acting as a sponsored pro for Italian site GD Poker. Although he prefers cash games, being highly successful in this arena, he still has more than $100k to his name in live tournament cashes. The two got engaged after Rizzo popped the question in his native Italy after the WPT Venice Grand Prix, and are to all onlookers gloriously happy. We bet there will be some huge names at their upcoming nuptials.

Combined Tournament Winnings:
Over $700k

Combined Number of WSOP and WPT Final Tables: 0 (so far)

Tags: Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Kara Scott, Giovanni Rizzo, Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello, McLean Karr, Tatjana Pasalic, Erick Lindgren, Erica Scoenberg